Searching for Sensei

I am the pillar of America, but my foundation is unstable.
I am the Eyes of America, 

but my vision is blurry.
I am the Great Ship of America,

and I fear we’re taking on water.
Who can stabilize the foundation and clear the lens so that the land is secure and that we may see clearly again?
Who is the master shipbuilder who can offer guiding points on how to bail out and secure this boat?
Who understands these matters and will guide us to safety?


Reflecting on the Memorial of Alex Nieto

Alex Nieto was a newly practicing SGI Buddhist. I volunteered to perform at his memorial celebration and justice gathering. When I lead the entire room in chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky outside the window of the room. I mean, everybody chanted their hearts out, and Alex responded to that wonderful sound. The rainbow was dense, full in color, magnificent.
Later on, after the moment of silence marking the anniversary of the moment Alex was gunned down by San Francisco Police upon Bernal Heights, one of his brothers got up to speak. His tone was full of rage, and he spoke of retaliation, anger, and an attitude familiar to many, but not necessarily an expression of the higher self. At that moment, the rainbow disappeared.
What is remarkable to me is that, after leaving from this memorial, my dear friend Aidan posted a photo of this rainbow on his Facebook page. And then I saw another photograph on somebody else’s page. And then another and another. And it was even posted as an article in SFgate dot com. This rainbow touched people’s hearts far and wide. Few had any clue that Alex Nieto was saying hello.
Later on, organizers in the Nieto organization declared that the rainbow appeared at a different time in the celebration. But the truth always comes out, one way or another.
Joyful things always happen when we chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together with our voices united. Because it is not a Christian concept, many Christians call it a doorway to hell. “If you chant, you’re betraying God.” But my question is: why does God always praise me with such beautiful expressions when I chant if that is the road that leads to hell?
My taught my daughter to chant during a lightning storm one night because the sound was scary to her. Her fear was instantly removed and she slept soundly. More recently, I found it much more difficult to encourage her to chant because, as she revealed to me, people of superstitious beliefs are telling her that chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo leads to hell. We were on a hike in a Costa Rican rain forest, she was scared out of her mind! When she finally did chant with me, her fear was powerfully diminished, a smile returned to her face, her original mind was restored to its original place, and we enjoyed a very happy day.
Therefore, when these teachings of superstition encourage humanity to cast of the science of “actual proof,” tell you to not believe what’s right in front of your eyes, to cling to a religious book as your savior while denying the reality before you, I have to speak out. I have to say: “your religion has died. The teaching is no longer medicine. The teaching has gone from one that saves people to one that has been taken over by devilish functions. Rather than serve the higher good, those teachings are being used to sway people towards darkness instead!”
Really, this can happen with any religion.   
I have heard that the genesis of human religion was very simply somebody’s inherent desire to pray, and then a movement to bring people together to pray together. Because the prayers of beautiful people of sincerity proved effective on some level, stories were cast to attempt to explain it all.
In science, old theories are discarded when new and better theories are brought forward and proven correct. People used to believe that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around that. It was debated for a time, one side was proven correct, and now we see only a few very ignorant folks who still believe incorrectly that the earth is flat.
There are times in human history where the life span expectancy of a human being was only 30 years or so. Through improved social conditions and acquisition of better living habits, life expectancy has jumped to reach as much as 100 years, with some cresting towards 120 years old.
Religion is inherent in human DNA. It is part of the makeup of each community. That doesn’t mean that each teaching is a perfect teaching. But it is fascinating that some people would rather fight to the death or commit acts of murder to defend a wrong-headed teaching than to find a good teaching that makes them very happy, no matter what others may say or do.
Whomever it is who has been teaching my 7 year-old daughter that she will fall into hell for chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, shame on you and your superstitious mind! If she were falling into hell for chanting, then why does she bust through her fundamental darkness and become happy whenever she does? It would seem that God’s got her back from the appearance of the result. In the meantime, the person teaching her that chanting leads to hell would actually be a warden of hell, since that person is encouraging her to follow a track that results in misery, thereby threatening to harm the mind of an innocent child. From your behavior, whoever you are, I can see that you’re a friend of the devil, one who would destroy a young mind in favor of protecting your own outdated perspective.
I have seen how these old teachings have wrecked havoc on my ex-girlfriend’s mind, as her mind would straighten out and a smile would return to her face when she chanted. She was raised in a culture where discarding the old and welcoming the new would be treated as a death sentence (because people act out God’s will and never allow God to speak for himself, resulting in grave violence rather than peace and happiness).
The challenges we face are immeasurable. Right at this time when humanity is at a true crossroads and we need to unite our energies and resources to find ways to build systems of peaceful coexistence, many of these old teachings are turning into tools that tear us apart.
In the meantime, for me, I enjoy the actual proof I get from my practice of Nichiren Buddhism. I’m not waiting for validation from afar, and I’m not waiting to die to see that this teaching is working. My religion is not in competition with science, because science keeps proving the principles correct. My choice of religion is mine alone, since I think it brings out the best qualities of my character. I am a self-hating man who actually likes himself after many years of personal struggle. I am one who always put everybody else first and myself last, throwing my life into an unending depression…. and yet, here I am putting myself first, acquiring the good fortune necessary with which to actually support others. I am a deluded man who thinks too much who has learned to be guided by the voice of my heart, leading me to great benefit.
If your teaching is working for you, fine. We meet as fellow human beings of deep respect. I would love to chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo together in a spirit of friendship and harmony, because it really has worked wonders for me and I like to share what I love because it makes the joy that much more contagious.
I am one who used to think that sharing marijuana would lead to peace and happiness. Marijuana revealed itself as a self-centered space for me, and it’s more like a drink in the evening when I want to relax and wind down. For some, it’s an addiction and a major problem, for others, no problem at all. I used to share that every chance I had, but it actually wound me up deep in self-hate. Now, marijuana is personal, a space of moderation. It has its medicinal qualities, but I understand the big picture that it is not the big picture.
By contrast, sharing Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo…. I feel happy just by sharing it. Even if others say they don’t want to chant with me…. sharing Buddhism cuts through depression in a way that no medicine, no song, and no drug ever has. I am an angry man by nature, but my practice of Buddhism allows me to use that anger for victory, to win in my own life, to feel good that, perhaps, I was able to avert a grave misfortune from occurring.
My mentor in life, Daisaku Ikeda wrote: “Human revolution means turning our lives in a positive direction, from unhappiness to happiness. It is the transformation of the tendency to allow ourselves to be swept along by force of habit or to feel ourselves at the mercy of the whims of destiny. The incredible power to do this already exists inside us.”  
Through my practice of Nichiren Buddhism, I am leaving a personal history of me doing just that. It’s incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. As the times grow darker and more fearful, my heart grows sunnier and more joyful. My future brightens while others plunge further into darkness. But I don’t want others to plunge into darkness. And I don’t want to base myself on a superstitious foundation. I want to show and share even more actual proof of my practice working. I need it so I can validate to myself that I’m on the right path. And I need it so I can encourage others. I do not like sharing that which does not prove itself true when practiced in the real world.
I wish other people would hold their religious philosophy and practice to as high a standard of testing as I do, no—even higher. I don’t want to die having lead people astray. I want to live demonstrating what it’s like to live to the very last.  
Tearing down the human spirit is not faith. Cutting down others is also not faith (although some evil teachings seem to declare that it is). I don’t want to live a life of spiritual slavery to teachings that deny the potential of the human spirit. And I want to set a good example, starting from where I am.
Alex Nieto was a new member of the sgi-Usa. He was gunned down by reactionary police while taking a bite out of his burrito because somebody called 911, misunderstanding the situation before them, and the police made no attempt to investigate before acting out the caller’s misguided fear. He was a youth in the early stages of transforming his life for the better, a youth who had entered the path of limitless self-improvement. And he came appeared as a rainbow to join us in solidarity when we shared in the prayer he had dedicated himself to: Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo! If this chant lead one to fall into hell, then how the heck did his life appear as a joyful expression that day? And after all of that? You should ponder this deeply.

Responding to An Excellent Show: Warpings of a Twisted Mind.

Conversations surround me

Open bar

Time to drink

“Everybody gets a little crazy sometimes”

Poly rhythm slap metallic



Seeking words

Meatballs bass ball

Envelop filter resonate whaa



Sound as spectacle

Snap and pop

My voice here

There a place in this sound?



Slick funk

Call and response




“I’ve gone through all five steps of grieving…”



The sound agitates

Something within me


Pretty ladies catch my eye

Surrounded in the party vibe

Drinking Jameson

Pondering my weed

Opening my voice

Here I am annoyed…

What am I seeking?

Salvation in music?

Or where is my place?

Empty is a stage

Somewhere waiting for me




Baby back curves

The funk rolls on



In my tiny little world





A pain in my heart

Wonder and bewildered

The jungle fast approaching

Great haste and we make our way




Circle of light passed through the crowd

The audience plays the sound

The band provides the funk

Four to the floor




Our chef knows

It’s the sauce that makes the dish

Dancing folks

Band is tight

Sounds alright

Less loud than some of these arena gigs



Sound comes down

Lights rise up

Floor clears enough

Call it a set break




Somehow, bored

Done this before

Done what?

What am I seeking here?

Something I found before?

A mythology I read about?

Yeah, it’s good.  It’s good.

But I feel out of place…


Not much diversity in this place.

Maybe just a little,

But surly not a lot.




Questions answered?


Writing to myself…

Nothing much to see here?

This isn’t the cliff face above the ocean

This isn’t a Latin bar where I’m the only one who doesn’t talk the tongue

This isn’t a Dead show, where I feel internally connected at the core, guided on by psychedelic vision and shared imagination.



Yes.  It’s good.  But what am I

missing, thinking I’m relating to


Somehow connected

Present in the time,

Locked in

In the right place,

Right time.

Perhaps a fish?

Perhaps indeed.



What’s the great connect?



The diversity in the room,

They work here.

They’re getting paid.

They’re taking care of business.


I write.



And wonder…

Here on the sacred grounds of music,

What am I seeking?




Is it the sound?

Is it the lights?

The brilliant colors?

The mystery?

The wonder?

The beautiful women letting their hair down?

A lyric I can connect with?

Layers of fractaled chatter

Churning and spewing voices

With nothing coherent to connect to?




Connection, a beer perhaps?

Perhaps a beer.




The bartenders…  No diversity here.

Cha Ching!

It’s not pop culture.

That the reason why?


The longer I stay

The more introverted I feel

Sucking me in

Am I the only one?

A vortex here.




And interesting

This world




Indian, Asian, Espanolas

Pockets of various cultures together

Few and far between

Some kind of near starvation here

Am I, or am I not judging?



To introduce new audiences

To bring people together


Here we are,

Are we not?



Dizzy here with drink









The myth of music

The wonder of sound

Enlightenment through the ears

So many people gone deaf




The tradition



The band returns to stage

People take ownership of the bench

The riff

The funk

Hard funk



Take it

Once again

Take it as it comes




So they listened to more music

than any of us

Know their parts




Yeah, it’s good

Maybe I don’t like it enough

Or perhaps too much



Or I want a quieter tone


These guys are unrelenting



Increasing in power with every repetition

Anger?  Dance music?

Holier than thou?

Or bringing everyone to the funk?

Ego?  Or ego free?

Showing off?

Or putting on a show?

Every note precise?

Building the band

no room for error or fault.




People are most certainly moving.

No doubt in here,

People are moved.




My oh my

Not hard to get drunk

Glad I left the car at home



Rock and rollers with haircuts

Everyone’s got gray hair…






I shake my head to the beat

Fast side to side

Eight note groove

Taka taka taka taka

Taka takka taka tak tahk!




Is the dream over?

Or are there always those who say:

“The dream is finally over”

While the dreamers

They go on

On and on

On and on

On and on




Here they are

Still here

Not going anywhere

Still standing

Still standing





Never swayed

Still creating

Pixel ate




Pixel is a cube

Less reality for you








A joint I must light

Ever discover

Love your mother

But let her go

She’ll always love you

And know that you’re

Gonna be fine

Stand on your own state of mind




One African American in the room

My uncle marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. one time,

As I know.




This song

The guitar holds the Philly Joe

Jones skank

Against the bass



Is this music for all

At a higher cost

Limiting the sales to those who can afford




My oh my,

How I do love justice

The sense of relief

That we fought for and won

Our mutual respect

For that is love

That is hope.

That is hope.




This is psychedelia.

The chosen words

Do not represent all conviction,

Do they?




Wonder continues.

I like to argue with those who


That should be fine.




Argument does not stand in the way of respect

We explore these things together.



Whatever is this song,

It is the groove that moves the


The colors

The form




The wonder

The moment I alight


The wonder.




And when the time is right


A connection

An interesting couple

The love weaves





The accidental word

The autocorrected imaginings

Of technology




The euphoria

“Say something!”

Blow that smoke to the ceiling, y’all




If pop culture didn’t tell me,

The things I wouldn’t say!





This band is determined and tight

Something to say, no doubt



What is the purpose of music?

My soul is moved.

Yes, I am moved.





This is where the band wins the


Forward ever forward

The familiar songs

Phish has allowed Mike to speak for himself

Compassionate action

The jazz world creates more intermingled bands than the rock

crowd can ever imagine



The greater the musical conversations,

The higher quality of music

And the more bridges of humanity

Which can be a source of courage

And can help filter out

Uncritical thinking





Local Latin bands still do this kind

of groove better, sugar shack

But I like the spirit of never giving


Like the sun shining in the sky




Part of the issue is that the sound

sculpted front of house can be that

critical artist that conveys the





Sound design.  What does it mean?

(Insert meaning here)




Now it’s time for the hand to be

super slick.  There’s no

compromising when it comes to





Why is live sound not done to

exactly the same standards as CD

quality?  We know what

soundboards sound like:





Can you transmit that quality to the

audience as well?

Can’t recall the last time I

experienced that.

Small clubs tend to be easier.

Or do they?

Big question.

Big question.




Keep the groove in line with the

swing of the spine

It is an art to accord with the

natural rhythm of dance

Computers do it,

So the standards are stupidly high.

It kinda sucks, but it’s about the

strength to allow many people to

enjoy themselves at ease together.




(I’ve been reading text books, so

I’m talking a little like a textbook).



Mike plays the standard fare

because he finds that a) the most

fun to play that b) communicates

together.  A band is only as good

as the team that makes them

sound good from afar.  Not to

underestimate the power of music,

but the power of sound is equally

important.  Which hints that the

quality of attitude is also important.



I wonder what work goes on behind

the scenes to generate this kind of

mutual chemistry as a band……







Ok.  The funky Halley’s intro

These guys just represent the

music industry.  But how many

industries are connected to music?

Which are not?  Ah….  Name one.  I

don’t believe you can.  The people

are connected to music, which is

connected to life.  Why?  Does it

make us better people?



This band ain’t fuckin’ around.

The groove grows more upright.



How Many People Are You?



Scolding the modern shallowness

of vision.

Is it really sustainable?

Who are the few that are choosing

whether it’s sustainable or not?

Big question.  But based on an

absolute respect…  People enjoy a

positive connection to cause and

effect much more than the results

of a negative vision.  So it’s

important to stay positive and

hopeful, as an act of faith…. A

correct attitude knows that

we know how to handle difficult situations

and endure through.

Many do that without even thinking

about it.



Can they turn it toward good?  Might that be a possibility?  What

does that mean?



I am not sure.



But that’s what prayer is for, right?

To look at oneself and ask: am I

setting the example that accords

with a sustainable vision ?



Why do I even ask the question?

My Virgo overthink or something else?

Or am I just seeking and all up in my own head?



Tone the volume down a tad, to the

actual balance point, and everyone

in the room can share in quality and




That sounds happy to me, for me,

consistent with the principle of

cherry, plum, peach, damson…

Who knows what a damson is?  I

stole that line…







Played all the hits in set 2.  Authentic San Francisco attitude.  There’s a special tradition in this town.  Classic San Francisco bohemian originality and questioning of the reality.  It’s a gift of the land, it seems.  It’s a cool place to be.  My home town.  Cool to have good friends come and visit.

Here an excellent example of translation in composition.

Making a case that this is the year of the MGB.

Natural marketing machine




This is evidence that Cities is a

cover Mike brings tot the Phish




I wonder if playing without jumping

makes it better, or if the jumping

makes a difference.



Pure funk consistent to the band.

Is it hip?  Personal opinion.



I’m digging it.

Great to be distracted from a

different view of the “Phish-

building block” process.



Small clubs must be grounding

after giant rooms.  Can only image.



Something that thinks with the music in a different way, and gives you opportunity

or unwind and feels much much better.  Self care is damn important.



Is this over people’s heads?

I guess that’s about the correctness

of the music plus the soundperson’s responsibillty.



That was funky!



The band offered 6 minutes of overtime.










thanks to mix gordon for coming up and thanking me after the gig.  fast paced, unexpected, and very classy.

Thoughts on Phish: 2015 July 21

unedited…  the play by play, and random thoughts.

I’m listening back to just Sample, now Sand. Trey has some real conviction again. It’s like he’s been practicing.

2014 had some weaknesses. Some of the most stale first sets of their career.

This Sand has some straight fire. I don’t recall Trey bringing this much fire last year. And the rest of the band sounds excited to be playing. Strong start.

Mike sounds stoked to be singing 555.

It’s like the rest of the band is stoked to have Trey back.

Trey’s a powerhouse!

Super joyful vibe.

“We’re all here!” Thanks, Trey!

Rift. Studio-tight start.

Rift is a spectacular, standard, nailed version.

Halfway to the Moon has a great start. The band sounds so happy to be playing, and their confidence is actually allowing the colors of Oregon’s natural environment into their sound.

Setlist of standards, but the musicianship has great enthusiasm, and rising energy.


Horn. The first (actually second, after Rift; but first delicate) composed solo of the year. Trey isn’t quite relaxed enough to pull that one through. He’s got the power, but lacking control.

Puts that one quickly behind him, and jumps right into Devotion to a Dream. Ripping solo!

This new song is alright. New Orleans funk here. Page is happy.

I’m digging these lyrics.

“I met a liar/ called the Messiah!” Fuck yeah!

An expedient means artist. lol.

Great new song. A real set of words there. Fewer lyrical “me” moments that we’ve had in quite a while. Narcissism is bad for Phish music.

Good jam.

Tube. The band sounds tight enough. Tearing shit to shreds.

Old school, short Tube. Very good, but not memorable.

Wolfman’s. At this point, we’ve got a great show, and good energy.

Thinking back to the tour opener at 6/7/12 at Worcester, during Possum, when Mike and Trey weaved their lines around each other, it was clear that the year would prove to be a game changer.

Trey’s got more authority than he’s had in a long long time. The band is really together. The new song is a hit for me.

Musically, they’re in type 1 mode. No musical miracles were performed here. Just some awesome, high octane rock and roll.

Breakaway into the jam. In natural settings, Page’s piano sounds wonderful here. The band sounds stoked to be playing together once again. The unity on stage is palpable. The sound has a great enthusiasm. The mix sounds great on my iPhone, which is impressive. This jam is turning more fiery than I expected. Good peak, and Trey reels in without blowing his wad.


Ghost. I like the fact that Trey laid down a no bullshit version of the song here. There was serious commitment to the tune. And the jam is taking off with the same conviction.

Trey is pushing upwards, even when the band seems to want to pull back a little, Trey finds a way forward and upward. The man is not swayed by the wind. He makes his own. The band follows, and they push. I can dig it.

This thing has transcended into the next noise zone of the stratosphere. They are rocketing outward into space. Trey trill. I take it that this space is a hint of where they’ll be going in 2015. I could hear the night sky in that passage.

The Birds of a Feather.

This is the most persistent Phish we’ve had in quite a while. The band is strong.

This is pretty much more ripping than any Birds of a Feather from the last year or more. That solo went the full arch in ripping style. \

Mike’s Song. I attended a Buddhist meeting tonight, and turned on my phone a couple times to check the setlist. Intuition had me imagining that Mike’s would turn up tonight. Indeed it did. The band brings the standards.

Does Mike sound like he’s smiling the first time he sings “Sharing the groove” at the end of verse 1?

Second verse drags slightly… light swagger?

Question: Will tonight’s show be a great tour opener, followed by a bunch of nights of the band just settling in? Or will this trajectory take them to new highs spanning the entire tour? Will it be a few great shows, followed by a cooling down and return to the standard groove, or will they push themselves to new heights? Hoping the band turns in a legendary year/// But we always hope for that. It’s not magic. It’s worked for. I’m sure of it now.

This Mike’s is dirty! Trey is really interacting with his band. The only guy I can’t really fully appreciate in the mix is Mike, but the band is playing like he’s on his game. Mike’s didn’t transcend the standard form, but it did prove its worth. Every moment of that jam was interesting, textured, fun. And constantly shifting feel, quality, … the band was really on their game.

Wedge doesn’t sound like a cop out here. Ah… the virtue of not listening to any Phish for a few months leading to tour. Everything sounds fresh and new.

This is a worthwhile Wedge solo. Trey is making every statement sound fresh and new.

Fuego. After last year, I came to think this tune can be heavy, clunky, and the words are pretty strange. The band is a sailor’s girl. The best is yet to come. Guilty people and angels…. I guess it sounds less clunky when Trey has his chops. This is actually a really weird song.

It’s got a twisted break away, into a cool groove which they take a moment here to find. Trey is more comfortable with the first solo than before. Fuego is entering their DNA now. I get the Fuego love, but it’s not my favorite tune ever composed. It sounds more natural tonight.

I feel that a little bit of the song’s implicit possible meanings are beginning to emerge.

Viking warriors with animal heads/ the girl begins to levitate….”” levitating guitar solo. Yes, Trey’s guitar is a girl who never stops singing. Great peak early in the song. That was one of the first Trey peak riffs of the entire show. Trill! Actually a great solo build up. Sustain. Call it what you will, these are Trey cliches in good form. He keeps spiraling higher and high in rock and roll form (jazz form would be even more extraordinary, but likely less appreciated).

The breakdown, hypnotic march part of the jam. Leaving Fuego behind?

The new livephish+ app is great, because you can stream the show without any pauses for song breaks.

The opening chords are not unlike Standing on the Moon. The words are Springsteen-like. Trey is back with Sue. As my ex-wife would say, it sounds like he’s in love. “I only like the shade when you’re blocking the light.” This possibly Phish’s first hit record on the horizon? Two awesome songs, two awesome lyrics. This lyrical refrain where they’re singing in rounds might keep the song from being a hit… but what the fuck do I know about that? What people dig is what they dig.

Brings me back to Secret Smile from 7/26/13 at the Gorge. I had more non-Phish fans stop me to ask what song that was. After 1,000 versions that made me want to never hear the song again, they nailed it once… and then the song has yet to make another appearance. It’s like they finally learned how to play it, and then it’s gone.

This lyrical round-singing is …. dare I say cheesy? It was the weakness of the song for me.

Question: Will it grow on me? Or will I just wish they’d be more straight forward and less clever? Otherwise, a fine fine song.

Alright! Wombat Pt. 2.

Another muscular groove with funky lyrics.

Is this a sign that Trey is turning his narrative away from the feminine here? Know Man, in Know Man’s Land.

Trey’s tone is definitely textured after a ’77 Dancin’ jam.

Weekapaug… Finally, we get a legitimate Page solo. Trey’s playing good rhythm here. But, like Jerry, he just takes over with his riff, pushing Page out of the solo zone. He ascends, and now they share the space. Piano comes in with organ still ringing. Gives a sense of a fifth member of the band.

Rhythm section is emanating some brilliance here, and Trey is soloing blissfully.

One criticism I have of jam bands is that, here in Phish, (as an example), there are 4 members, but only 1 constant soloist. There are 4 unique voices in the band, but only 1 who gets the say on everything. If all 4 had equal time to talk, the sound would be exponentially more open, and the overall would come across as more profound (although the audience might shrink as a result). It would be more worldly, nonetheless, and less one-sided.

This is a rad Trey solo here, doing more with trilling than ordinary, trilling an ascending line up the fret board. Very cool.

oooh… grooving out the end of Weekapaug, and slowing the shit down, and dropping into Boogie ON! They made that sound easy! Very cool!

Trey and Page are really communicating well throughout the show. They’re locked in for sure. I’m also impressed by the Trey/Fishman connection here. They definitely sound refreshed.

Post lyrical jam… music is bursting forth from the stage. The band was in one thick, medicine groove.

Is someone’s telephone ringing? Breakdown towards some spaciness.

Chalkdust Torture.

I think of this tune with fond memories of Lemonwheel, when Trey’s solo stirred up waves of white-hot light that circled hard through the crowd as the band peaked the jam. It translates to the tape. The hottest version I witnessed. And I think of the majestic, open version at Big Cypress. Or, in more standard recollections, the fantastic version at Bill Graham Civic just last year, where Trey played with such confidence, it seemed as though his lines were sculpted in the air.

Tonight, “uptight” is met with a musical push of extra mustard.

Trey has spent time working on his technique. He’s spent time working on his tone. He’s not drowning out the band, which is a plus. They are really building tension as a team.

For the second time this show, a set ends with Trey’s solo refraining from going over the top. He really didn’t peak that Chalkdust at all. They were building it up, but then, I guess that was where he wanted to call it. And although the riff towards the final chorus was sketchy, the final riff was nearly nailed (which was sorely missing, when it was attempted in ’14).

Theme starts with a new Fishman touch, then Page, then Trey and Mike. Old school, with exception to Fish.

Is Phish climbing the mountain once again? Definitely sounds like it. Phish is, after all, a team sport. And they are chugging along.

In ’14, when Trey was tired, he could barely play.

Tonight, he sounds tired, but there’s a ton of music emanating from his guitar. Classic Billy Breathes riffs abound. Trey entering the shaman zone, a la Grateful Dead influence (?). Nonetheless, great Theme. I want to say that it’s not as epic as 8/19/12, but that would be a disparagement. The song is a composition in progress. And the band delivered a first rate tour opener.

Glad to share my first impressions with you. Hope you enjoyed reading.


When pondering the state of the world

Clearly we should try to see

Politicians don’t work for peace.

Money and greed is their operandi;

Awakening is not their creed.

Creative reasoning is not a matter

of the Heart and the Soul.

We’ve got folks who work hard

to ease the Soul.

Won’t you ask where they may be,

‘Cause politicians don’t make Peace.